Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
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Afton will be getting a new staff head coming into 2011. The Afton City Council came to a consensus at a worksession on Tuesday that assistant city administrator Sara Irvine will take up the top spot in the coming weeks. "We feel that Sara is ready to have a chance as administrator," city council member Joe Richter said. Interim city administrator Ron Moorse, who was began in May, will remain on as a consultant for large-scale projects such as the 2008 Comprehensive Plan and the Old Village infrastructure projects. "I think that's a great idea," Mayor Pat Snyder said.
Joua Lor and Elvis Lee, of St. Paul, celebrated the birth of their daughter Lilah at 12:55 p.m. New Years Day at Woodwinds Health Campus. Lilah wasn't the official first baby of the new year at Woodwinds however. That family chose not to be recognized. Joua's due date was Jan. 2, but a New Years baby wasn't really on hers and Elvis' radar. "But, we'll never forget her birthday," Elvis said. Meanwhile, an Oakdale couple's son was recognized as the New Years baby at Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater.
The city budget for 2011 will see a slight decrease, but the property tax levy will see a slight increase. The Afton City Council voted 5-0 Dec. 28 to approve a budget of $1,078,623, a decrease of $4,471, or .04 percent, from the 2010 budget. The 2011 tax levy was approved at $1,560,836, which is an increase of $44,578, or a 2.94 percent, over the 2010 tax levy.
Families in the Stillwater Area School District will get their chance to speak against, or in support of, boundary changes at three public hearings in January. District 834 began work on revising its attendance boundaries in October as part of its Vision 2014 since the district currently has two elementary schools -- Lake Elmo Elementary and Rutherford Elementary -- are over crowded. Lake Elmo Elementary currently has 778 students enrolled, which is at 104 percent capacity, and Rutherford Elementary has 766 students which is at 103 percent capacity.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third in a series of stories on the recipients of the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce award for educators, business organizations and citizen of the year. For Lanka Liyanapathiranage teaching is a family trait. His mother was a teacher. His aunt was a teacher. And his stepmother had her teaching license. "I've actually always really liked school," he said.
Ugly sweaters anyone? In recent years the concept of the "ugly sweater" party has been a trendy theme among the 20-something and 30-something crowd. But last week some local teens and teachers got in on the act as the Woodbury High School Student Council hosted an "Ugly Sweater Day" on Dec. 21. "The concept of 'ugly sweater' days or parties seems to be a theme that many are doing around the country," student council adviser Hollie Radanke said.
On a cold day like those that have been plaguing Minnesota in recent weeks, why not warm up with a hot cup of tea at Woodbury's newest tea shop -- the Steepery Tea Bar. The Steepery Tea Bar, which is part of the Tea Garden franchise, opened Nov. 20 in the Seasons Market commercial development. The Steepery Tea Bar is owned by mother-son team, and Woodbury residents, Nick and Diana Nguyen. "We've always thought Woodbury would be a good place for a tea shop," Nick Nguyen said.
Afton resident Ross Sveback, who knows all things lifestyle, is branching out from his cooking classes and lifestyle tips with his business Kon-tent to actually sell what he preaches. Sveback has recently started selling a variety of handmade and self-designed items such as soaps, cookie cutters, dinnerware, dishtowels and jewelry. "It's one of those weird things where you throw something against the wall and see if it sticks," he said.
It is better to give than to receive. That's the message of Christmas that a group of confirmation students at King of Kings Lutheran Church have been working on for the last few weeks. The church's seventh and eighth graders put together and wrapped 261 "Shoeboxes of Love" for the Salvation Army in an event on Dec 15. "For kids, here in Woodbury especially, it's hard for them to understand that there is poverty not that far away from here," said Heather Hultgren, the confirmation coordinator at King of Kings.
Winter has more than arrived, but if you've already laced up those blades to hit the outdoor ice you'll have to keep those skate guards on for just a few more days. Woodbury's 12 ice rinks, at seven locations, will not officially open until Dec. 26 due to the heavy snowfall that took place earlier this month. "It is very disappointing that the rinks aren't open," Parks and Recreation specialist Reed Smidt said.